May 15, 2005

Dartblog distorts Lancet Study

This is probably the most offensive example of an indisputable distortion of truth I have found yet on Joe's Dartblog. It needs to be set straight.

Joe Malchow asks, "How Many Iraqi War Deaths?" He mentions the Lancet Study, which estimated that the US invasion of Iraq caused 100,000 deaths (actually, between around 5000 and 200,000 was their estimate, with the likeliest number thus being 100,000 -- the Lancet Study is an admittedly imprecise study but could well still be accurate). Joe completely misconstrues the Lancet Study by misconstruing another person's (accurate) construal of the Lancet Study on Volokh. Jim Lindgren, the poster on Volokh, rightly points out that "The 98,000 figure covers deaths from all sources (including accidents and disease), while the new ILCS study's 24,000 estimate excludes deaths from non-War related sources of death, such as accidents or disease." He also is correct that "For example, the Lancet study distinguishes between the 14.6 month period before the War and the 17.8 months after the War."

Malchow then writes that

The number comes from the Lancet Study, which reported that 98,000 Iraqi non-militants had been killed. That is incorrect, as Jim Lindgren reminds us. What Lancet actually found was that 98,000 Iraqis had died since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. In a country of 25 million, that isn't hard to believe. The 98,000 includes asthma, cancer, accidents, car crashes, heart attacks, old age, suicide... The 98,000 includes everything.

Not at all. The Lancet study, as the Volokh post recognized, took the number of deaths in Iraq from a 14.6-month period before the war, and the number of deaths from the 17.8-month period after the war, and subtracted the former from the latter to estimate the number of deaths due to the Iraq war. The change in death rate, essentially, NOT just the total number of deaths after the Iraq war. No one in their right mind would ever propose or lie about the latter as a method for for estimating the death toll in Iraq. Only Malchow seems to be under this illusion about the Lancet Study.

Go check it out for yourself. Here is the Lancet Study in PDF, and a summary of it from The Washington Post.

I sincerely hope Mr. Malchow will issue a correction on his blog and remove the offending post.

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